Hemp Bill Dies in Committee
By WestKyStar Staff
FRANKFORT, KY -
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Paul Hornback, along with other lawmakers, will hold a press conference at 11:15 am Thursday to discuss the failure of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McKee to give Senate Bill 50 a fair hearing and an up/down vote.
In a press release Wednesday, Republican Comer said Democrat McKee "stood up" the bill by adjourning the meeting prematurely. Testimony was heard during the morning, and a motion was made to pass the bill. McKee ruled the motion out of order, then adjourned the meeting. When he was greeted by boos, McKee promised he would reconvene the committee, but instead adjourned it from his desk, effectively killing the bill.
“I’m very disappointed in Chairman McKee,” Comer said. “The testimony today was overwhelmingly in favor of SB 50, and we clearly had the votes to pass this bill. This is a perfect example of everything wrong with Frankfort right now.”
In an interesting twist, members of law enforcement who testified on the bill actually conceded that SB 50 addresses many of the concerns they have raised. Rep. Jonathan Shell from Lancaster stated that if SB 50 failed to pass, no safeguards would be in place if the federal government legalized industrial hemp.
“It was clear that the entire room had finally come to a full understanding of the intent of SB 50, which is to position Kentucky with a responsible program that could achieve a waiver from the federal government,” Comer added. “We were ready to put Kentucky on the forefront for jobs, and Chairman McKee just pulled the rug out from under all of us. This is disrespectful to all the people who put a year of hard work into this bill, including our federal delegation and military veterans who deserve more job opportunities.”